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Viewers just weren’t that curious

The addition of a fourth judge didn’t help “American Idol’s” ratings.

The show’s two-hour Season 8 premiere on Fox on Tuesday gathered 30.1 million total viewers -- still a very impressive figure, but a decline of 10% compared with last year’s premiere and the lowest “Idol” season launch since January 2004.

With new judge Kara DioGuardi added to the familiar judging trio of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, “Idol” averaged an 11.6 rating/28 share in the coveted demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, handing Fox an easy victory for the night, according to early data from Nielsen Media Research.

Those are still numbers any competitor would kill for. But the “Idol” drop-off compared with last season was particularly steep among young people, who have traditionally furnished the show’s base. Last year, “Idol” opened with a 13.8/32 in the 18-to-49 demographic, translating into a 16% dip in that ad-friendly category. And the program lost a quarter of its audience of adults 18 to 34.

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Meanwhile, competitors held up as best they could. CBS’ older-skewing lineup was only minimally affected, with “NCIS” averaging 18.5 million viewers and “The Mentalist” managing 18.1 million.

But the CW’s “90210,” whose youthful audience overlaps with that of “Idol,” got hammered, with a 1.9 rating in its core demographic of adults ages 18 to 34, a 34% plunge compared with its prior season-to-date average. However, the CW’s soap tends to be among the most frequently recorded series on DVRs, so its numbers may rise significantly when viewer playbacks are counted.

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scott.collins@.latimes.com

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